Saying It Social

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How Businesses like Sylvan Learning Center and Computer Explorers Can Use Foursquare

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Depending on where you live you may be seeing more and more businesses advertising that they participate in Foursquare.foursquareFoursquare awards points and badges when users check-in at locations (check-ins can be done via a mobile phone with internet access or a computer). Businesses can engage and reward consumers by providing deals and discounts to Foursquare users that hold certain badges for checking in and patronizing their business. For example, when a user checks-in to a certain location more than anyone else they earn the “Mayor” badge; more and more restaurants are beginning to reward the Mayor of their location with specials such as a free entree or not having to wait for a table on a busy evening. Enticing specials such as these are offered to keep bringing people back to “oust” the Mayor so that they may benefit from these exclusive deals.  If they’re like me, consumers will keep going to places that don’t even offer deals to Foursquare users yet, simply because they feel special holding “Mayorship” status at their favorite places!

foursquare badges

While I’ll admit not all businesses fit into the Foursquare model, there are some business that may think that they don’t but could definitely use it with a bit of creativity. Let’s take a look at how two franchise companies that work with children, Sylvan Learning Center and Computer Explorers, could use Foursquare to help get children more excited and interested in their services. Disclaimer: According to Foursquare’s Terms, Foursqaure is to be used only by children 13 years of age and older, so for children under the age of 13 please make sure Foursquare is only accessed under strict adult supervision.

First, a very brief intro to our two selected “subject” companies….

Sylvan Learning Center – provides highly personalized instruction in reading, math, writing, study skills, homework help, SAT*/ACT® prep and state test prep.

Computer Explorers – provides technology education to children ages 3 and up at childcare centers, preschools, private and public schools and community centers.

Having worked with children in the past, I’ve experienced first-hand that one of the last things a child wants to do outside of school hours is more school work or anything that appears to be “something else they have to do” – this is where an incentive program could come in handy, and a location based social networking site such as Foursquare could be just the instrument to help.

Privacy First

One of the common misconceptions surrounding Foursquare is that by participating, everyone will know where you are at all times via your check-ins. It is true that you can publish your check-ins to let your Foursquare friends, Twitter followers, and Facebook friends know where you are, however you also have the option to keep your check-ins private so that you aren’t publicizing your location but are still able to receive badges for checking in at certain places and benefit from discounts and deals offered by businesses. That being said, with a little education and implementation of the appropriate privacy settings, parents can feel confident that no one will be able to keep tabs on their children if they were to engage in a Foursquare incentive program through their local Sylvan Learning Center or Computer Explorers program.

Noteworthy Privacy Settings

When a Foursquare account is created, an email address is required – it is recommended that this email address be that of the parent if the child is under the age of 13. After the initial registration page, the next step is to link the Foursquare account to Facebook and Twitter accounts and invite friends to join – this is not necessary or recommended for children. You will also notice that uploading a photo is an option. While your gut instinct tells you not to upload a photo of a child on a social media site, a user must have a photo in order to become the Mayor of a location. But, fear not! There is a solution! Simply upload a generic avatar or cartoon/clip art picture and you’ve fulfilled the photo requirement! After skipping all of the next steps prompting you to link to Twitter and Facebook and invite friends, you will finally come to a link to view your profile. Next click on “Settings” in the upper right-hand corner and un-check all boxes so that the account settings appear as shown below:

The last privacy measure you need to take comes during each check-in. After locating the venue but before clicking the “check-in” button, make sure to switch the drop down regarding sharing preferences to “Hide my location” – you will need to help the child do this each time they check-in.

The Foursquare Incentive Program

To implement this program a Sylvan Learning Center or Computer Explorers location would first add their venue (wherever they will be providing instruction) or claim their venue if it has already been added to Foursquare by going to Foursquare’s business center at http://foursquare.com/businesses. After the venue has been verified by Foursquare, the company can now think of special incentives that children can earn when they become the Mayor (check-in more than anyone else) or check-in X number of times in X days, etc… you can also go to http://foursquare.com/suggest_badge and suggest a badge; perhaps a Computer Explorer badge for a child that checks-in X number of times at a Computer Explorers venue or a Book Worm badge for a child that comes for reading help X number of times at a Sylvan Learning Center. Get creative! The idea here is to break down the resistance of children who need help and/or whose parents want them to engage in an educational/technological type program but cringe at the idea of spending one more minute studying or learning. From a business perspective, if the students who attend a Sylvan Learning Center or a Computer Explorers program start telling their peers about their Foursquare check-ins and all of the “cool” rewards and incentives they are receiving, this may get other children excited and wanting to participate so they start asking their parents if they can attend these programs as well! Nothing like starting word of mouth marketing young!

Children Aren’t Carrying Around PDA’s and SmartPhones, How Do They Check-In?

With the help of a parent or teacher, after going to http://foursquare.com and creating an account with the appropriate privacy settings in place, a child can check-in at any venue via a computer with internet access by going to http://facebook.com/mobile and either typing in the name of the venue or searching by venue name or category. This exercise could be particularly fitting for a Computer Explorers program that is already focusing on implementing technology! Why not make “checking-in” on Foursquare part of the routine?

The Wrap Up

The moral of the story is, don’t automatically assume that a social networking program cannot help your business. Sometimes all it takes is a little “outside of the box thinking” to benefit from these emerging tools.

Does your business implement Foursquare deals? If so, please share!


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June 22, 2010 Posted by | Foursquare | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

How to Create a Custom URL for Your Facebook Business/Fan Page

Like This!I often get the question, “AK, I thought I created a username/custom URL for my business page but when I type in the address it takes me to my personal profile… what happened?” Answer: You didn’t do it right:-) In Add to Google Buzzall seriousness, you just entered your desired username in the incorrect spot. So here I am to tell you the correct way to create a custom username/URL for your Facebook fan/business page and what you can do to change your username if the question above sounds familiar.

How to Create a Custom URL for Your Facebook Fan/Business Page (Plus How to Create a Custom Username for Your Personal Profile)

First thing, first. In order to create a username/custom URL for a Facebook fan/business page (whatever you call it) – you must be an Administrator of that page. Sounds like a no-brainer, I know… but just being thorough here! Also, you must have 25 people who have clicked the button to “Like” your page before Facebook will allow you to create a custom URL for a page.

Now that we have those details out of the way, let’s start from the beginning.

1. Log into Facebook.

2. In the same window or in a new window/tab type http://facebook.com/username into the address bar of your browser.

facebook custom url, facebook custom username

3. If you do not already have a custom username for your PERSONAL PROFILE the following screen will appear. If you already have a custom username for your personal profile skip to step #5. a. If you do not have a custom username for your personal profile and you don’t want one, skip to step #5. b.

facebook custom url, facebook custom username

4. To create a custom username for your PERSONAL PROFILE type your desired username into the space provided and click “Check Availability”. Be careful, you will only be able to change this one time after you select it. After you select your PERSONAL PROFILE username (did you get this was for your PERSONAL PROFILE and not your fan/business page?!), to create your custom username/URL for you fan/business page type http://facebook.com/username into your address bar again then proceed to step #5. a.

facebook custom username, facebook custom url

5. a. When you have already created a custom username for your personal profile, your screen after going to http://facebook.com/username, will look like the picture below. Now click on “Set a username for your Pages” (the first three words, “Set a username” make up the actual clickable link).

facebook custom username, facebook custom url


5. b. When you do not have a custom username for your personal profile and you do not wish to create one, you can still set a custom username for your fan/business page by ignoring the top part and clicking on “Set a username for your Pages” (the first three words, “Set a username” make up the actual clickable link). This is the step where most get confused so be very careful here. You are NOT typing anything into the supplied box and you are NOT clicking on “Check Availability” – your only action here is to click on “Set a username for your Pages“.

facebook custom username, facebook custom url


6. After you click on “Set a username for your Pages” the following box will appear. Use the drop down arrow to select the name of the page for which you wish to create the username/custom URL.

facebook custom url, facebook custom username

7. A new box will appear for you to enter your desired username. Enter your desired username then click “Check Availability”.

facebook custom username, facebook custom url

8. If your username is available the following box will appear (read what the box says VERY CAREFULLY before you click “Confirm”).

facebook custom url, facebook custom username

9. Once you hit “Confirm”, you will get a message letting you name your custom URL has been created for your page and you are all done!

What to do if You Accidentally Created a Username for Your Personal Profile that You Intended to Create for Your Fan/Business Page

Disclaimer: Following these steps does not guarantee that you will be able to switch the username from your personal account to your fan/business page. Facebook says that once you create a username for a personal profile it cannot be transferred. However, these steps will tell you how to change your personal profile username to something else so that you can try to follow the steps above and see if you can get the username you just released. If you get a message that it is unavailable you could wait a couple of days and see if Facebook releases it, or, unfortunately, you may have to choose a different username for your fan/business page.

1. Click on your “Account” drop down menu located in the upper right-hand corner of Facebook and select “Account Settings”.

facebook custom url, facebook custom username2. If you have not already changed your username one time, you will see a “Username” section and a button to click that says “Change”. Note: Facebook only lets you change this once, so if you have already made a change, whether you realized it or not, you will not see this option in your account settings.

facebook custom url, facebook custom username

3. After you click on “Change” type your new desired username into the supplied box and click “Check Availability”.

4. Once you have successfully confirmed a new username for your personal profile – start with step #2 from the section above, “How to Create a Custom URL for Your Facebook Fan/Business Page”.

Hope this helps! If you have any questions please feel free to ask in the comments section and/or at http://facebook.com/sayingitsocial.

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June 22, 2010 Posted by | Facebook | , , , | 16 Comments

Saying It Social Adds Two New and Exciting Services!

New Service #1: ‘How to Use LinkedIn: Setting up a Profile and Beyond’ Webinar

Like This!At Saying It Social we acknowledge that LinkedIn is one of the most important social networking sites for business. However, it is not one of the sites that we manage for our clients. Add to Google BuzzLet me explain. Amongst other things, LinkedIn involves creating a personal profile and connecting with people whom you or may meet at networking events, seminars, marketing meetings, etc.  Your interactions on the site involve joining participating in discussions, asking and answering questions, requesting introductions and so forth; all of which all personal in nature and not easily done for you by someone else who doesn’t know who you know, doesn’t meet who you meet, and well, doesn’t walk in your shoes. You get the idea. All that being said, we still want to help you use it which is why when you sign on for our services we will provide you with a webinar that starts from setting up a LinkedIn profile to how to best use the various features of the site. We will also be happy to answer any ongoing LinkedIn questions you may have.

New Service #2: Weekly Coaching/Informational E-Newsletter

At Saying It Social our goal is to provide you with the tools to gain the biggest benefit from our social media marketing services. This is why we will send you a weekly e-mail newsletter with tips, tools, and ideas on how to incorporate your social media presence with the other elements of your marketing plan. We will give you sample letters that you can use to introduce your social sites to your clients, suggestions on how to reach out to past clients and bring your business back on their radar, and much more! We will also provide you with blog posts written by us and articles written by others in the industry about the current “goings-on” in social-media-for-business land so that you can learn more about what we and the benefits we provide.

Hope you are as excited about these new offerings as we are!!

June 17, 2010 Posted by | LinkedIn, Social Media Marketing, Social Networking | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I Attended a Networking Event…Now What?

business cards

You already understand the importance of networking for growing your business. So, you’ve attended a handful of networking events, met some interesting people, and acquired a handful of business cards. Now what?

Follow up!

If you wait for your new contacts to reach out to you, you’re leaving your business growth to chance. They might misplace your card. Or you might simply slip off their radar – after all, they’re busy too. Therefore, you should proactively contact them.

How do you follow up with a new contact you barely know without coming across as aggressive or awkward? The five suggestions below can help.

1. Write on the back of each business card, noting the date and event where you met the person. Jot down any noteworthy personal information the contact shared with you (e.g., family, interests, business challenges, etc.). Mentioning these details will help you reestablish rapport with someone later.

2. Connect with new contacts on LinkedIn and/or Twitter. This is an easy, unimposing way to stay within reach of someone. Viewing a person’s profile or past tweets can offer insight into interests, recent accomplishments, and business needs. These can serve as personable conversation starters and help you identify ways that your products or services can meet that person’s needs.

3. Send an interesting article, based on what you know about a contact’s business needs, industry trends, or other interests. This can effectively position you as a valuable resource and give you something to discuss the next time you’re in touch. It works especially well if the article addresses something you two discussed when you initially met or if it indirectly promotes something your business offers.

4. Offer to take a new contact out for coffee. One-on-one time together can help solidify a relationship and inspire candid conversation. Taking the steps above will ensure you have something to talk about. Additionally, the great thing about a coffee meeting is its flexibility – if the conversation is thriving, you can linger in a café as long as you want; if the interaction is bumpy, you can limit it to a brief outing.

5. Seek out previous contacts at future networking events. Many of the same people often attend various events within an area, so your chances of running into them again are good. While you should continue to connect with new people, make sure to also reconnect with previous contacts to strengthen and maintain those relationships. Introducing your existing contacts to others at an event can enhance your image as a valuable resource and earn you bonus points.

Of course, as with any business activity, networking and follow up should be outcome-oriented. While you must be careful not to jump into a sales pitch or a request for referrals too quickly, it’s also critical not to lose sight of that aim. Listening to contacts and referring back to what they’ve told you can help you build rapport. Establishing yourself as a valuable resource can help you build credibility. And these elements, along with diligent follow up, are among the building blocks of a productive business relationship.


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June 16, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

12 Reasons Your Business Needs a Social Media Marketing Program YESTERDAY

1. Own your brand’s social presence: If you don’t create official channels online, it’s only a matter of time before your customers/clients do it for you and create their own profiles and communities around your brand. It’s important to claim your brand name across all the major social media platforms. Here are two sites that will help you do this:

  • KnowEm: KnowEm has the highest number of sites (over 350) available for checking username availability. Simply by entering your desired username, you’ll be able to find out instantly if it’s still available. KnowEm also offers paid plans, from just signing up and registering you at 150 sites, to a full-featured plan which also fills in all profile details, complete with pictures, at 100 to 300 different networking sites.
  • namechk: Covering 72 major social networking sites, namechk is simple, fast, and easy to use. If your desired username or vanity URL is still available, you simply click through each one to claim it. If your brand isn’t consistent across the Web, namechk can help you by determining which usernames are still available on a number of the most popular sites.

2. Look like you “get it”: Your target audience is becoming more shrewd about leveraging social media sites as an integral part of their daily lives. If you want to appear relevant and in-step with the latest advances in technology, your potential customers will want to see you on these sites as well. If you don’t have a presence, you appear as if you’re not very savvy.

3. Brand recognition: You need to go where your customers are, and they are increasingly spending a great deal of time on social networking sites. Using social media enables your company to reach a huge number of potential customers. Getting your name out there is incredibly important — studies suggest that people need to hear a company’s name at least seven times before they trust and respect it enough to become a customer.

4. Take your message directly to consumers: Social media tools enable you to directly engage consumers in conversation. Be sure to build trust by adding value to the community consistently over time.

5. Increase your search engine rankings: Social media profiles (especially those on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn) frequently rank highly with major search engines. Creating keyword-rich profiles around your brand name can help generate traffic for your both your social-networking sites and your company’s Web site.

6. SEO benefits: Many social media bookmarking sites use NOFOLLOW tags that limit the outbound link value of posts made on their sites, but there are still many leading sites that allow DOFOLLOW tags — including Friendfeed, Digg, and Mixx. You can also benefit from posting to bookmarking sites that use NOFOLLOW tags if people read your posts and link back to your Web site.

7. Social media content is now integrated with search results: Search engines like Google and Bing are increasingly indexing and ranking posts and other information from social networks. Videos from popular sites like YouTube can also be optimized for indexing by the major search engines.

8. Brand monitoring: Having a social media presence gives you a better understanding of what current and potential customers are saying about your products and services. If you actively monitor social conversations, you have the opportunity to correct false or inaccurate information about your brand and address negative comments before they take on a life of their own.

9. Generate site traffic: You can create additional traffic if you regularly post updates on social networks that link back to your Web site. Social media bookmarking tools like Digg, Reddit, and Stumbleupon can also generate additional traffic to your site if you create frequent articles and blog posts.

10. Find new customers through your friends: You shouldn’t neglect your personal social media accounts as potential avenues to promote the activities of your business. Posting regular updates relating to your business and activities can remind your friends about what your company does and influence them to use your services or make referrals.

11. Find new customers through your company profile: Your company profile is a great opportunity for you to post regular updates on your activities and about important news and trends in your industry. This will attract the attention of new customers interested in your industry and increase your reputation as an expert in your field. It’s important to post regularly if you want to increase your followers or fans and convert them to potential leads.

12. Niche marketing: Social media enables you to reach very specific subsets of people based on their personal preferences and interests. You can create unique social media profiles to target these audiences or create strategies based on addressing individual interests.

Are you using social media to grow your business? Please share your experiences!


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June 4, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments